Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Wine (Federweisser) in the Wein-Laedchen in Frankfurt, Germany

Picture: Jennifer Schwarz and Frank Knischewski

The wine harvest begun in Germany on August 18. The first grapes picked in Germany were the Solaris grapes, at 72 Grad Oechsle. Ever heard of Solaris? These early-ripening grapes will be used for the New Wine (Federweißer). Federweisser is a very particular form of wine, available only for a limited timer after the harvest has started.

This year, I had my first glass of Federweisser at the Wein Laedchen in Frankfurt am Main Schwanheim, which was relaunched earlier this year by the young owner and manager couple Jennifer Schwarz and Frank Knischivski.

New Wine (Federweisser)

Federweisser is grape must, which is in the process of fermenting. The term in principle includes all stages of fermentation from fresh must to finished wine.

Typically, when you buy Federweisser, it is at the early stage of fermentation. Ideally, it should have 4% of alcohol or a bit more. Due to the carbonic acid, Federweißer tastes quite refreshing, not very different from grape lemonade or a sweet sparkling wine. Over time, as it continues to ferment, the sweetness goes away. This process goes on until an alcohol content of about 13 percent has been reached. At this final stage, the Federweisser assumes a dry and often bitter taste; it has become badly made wine. The yeast particles contained in Federweißer are responsible for its name, which literally means “white as a feather”.

Picture: Federweisser

Federweisser is available in Germany from early September to late October, and is generally served together with hearty, savory food. The classic combination is Federweisser and Zwiebelkuchen (onion tart). Two final points: As the fermentation of the Federweisser continues in your stomach, it is advisable to limit consumption to a glass or two at the most. Federweisser has nothing to do with Beaujolais Nouveau, which is finished wine that however has not benefited from any or very little aging and is sold starting the third Thursday in November of each year

Wein-Laedchen in Frankfurt

The Wein-Laedchen in Frankfurt-Schwanheim, in walking distance from where I live when I am in Germany, is one of the place that serves Federweisser. This was a reason to go there, but there are many other reasons. Literally translated, Wein-Laedchen means “small wine store”.

Picture: The Wein Laedchen

The Place

The Wein-Laedchen is made up of 2 inviting rooms with about 12 tables for 30 people or so. It has no bar, only tables. The new owners of the Weinlaedchen have nicely decorated the two rooms with old mirrors and candles, creating a cozy ambiance.

It is open only from Tuesday to Friday, from the late afternoon until late evening. It is closed on weekends, where it can be booked for private events. Jennifer runs the service with a lot of charm and Frank is in charge of the kitchen.

Picture: Wein-Laedchen in Frankfurt

The Wein-Laedchen regularly organizes events. When I was there last time, a lady, who produces hand bags and sells them, was there for a bag presentation. I am looking forward to the upcoming champagne tasting in a couple of weeks. Parents with young kids might like the book reading sessions of Jennifer.

The Food

The kitchen is a one man show and the food is by necessity limited to what one person can do. But I found it amazing what Frank is able to produce. Most dishes is hearty tavern food from the region, like Spundekaes, Frankfurt Sausage, Fleischwurst, Handkaes and Green Sauce, but all of them served with a most innovative touch. Spundekaes, a speciality from the nearby Rheingau and Rheinhessen wine regions, comes with capers; it was delicious, I had never had it that way before. Handkaes, one of Frankfurt’s signature dishes, typically eaten with a glass of apple cider, comes cut in slices, with a tomato and radish dressing - amazing.

The current food favorite is undoubtedly Green Sauce. Green sauce was supposedly Goethe's favorite meal and is another one of Frankfurt’s signature dishes. It is made from sour cream, hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar, salt, and generous amount of seven fresh herbs, namely borage, sorrel, cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and salad burnet.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Frank Knischewski and Handkaes

You can find Green Sauce everywhere in Frankfurt, in restaurants, taverns and supermarkets. Often, it is industrially produced, particularly those you find in Supermarkets. But not in the Wein-Laedchen. Here, Green Sauce is always fresh, hand-made and of outstanding taste. No wonder that earlier this year, Wein-Laedchen landed a surprise third place, behind two famous Frankfurt cider taverns, in the annual Green Sauce contest. Green Sauce at the Wein-Laedchen is a must and indeed most of the people do eat Green Sauce, as I did.

The Wines

All wines are sold by the glass. For now, do not expect a long list of VDP or Gault Millau-rated winemakers, but you will find good, solid wines, with a focus on the Pfalz and Rheingau region. A hand full of foreign wines, from South Africa and Chile round out the excellent wine list. The wines start at Euro 2.90 for a Silvaner and Scheurebe from the Pfalz to a Merlot from Chile barrique for Euro 6.70. Most wines are in the Euro 3.70 to 4.90 range. For those who like sparklers, there are also half a dozen sparkling wines on the list.

On-line Wine Shop

Wein-Laedchen also runs a small on-line wine shop, where I was pleased to detect a wine made by Weingut Thoerle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen. Weingut Thoerle is an up and coming wine producer. I visited Weingut Thoerle recently and wrote about my visit here.

Jennifer Schwarz and Frank Knischewski

The Wein-Laedchen is run and owned by two newcomers to the gastro scene, Jennifer Schwarz and Frank Knischewski. Their professional background is media management and acting. But they like wine and good food and have already in the short span since they opened the Wein-Laedchen demonstrated that they can create an ambiance where you feel at ease and relaxed.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller and Jennifer Schwarz

The Wein-Laedchen is a fun place, where you can have a couple of glasses of wine, a bite of some very well made local food, with an innovative touch, and catch up with your friends. For non-wine drinkers, there are also other options.


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